What to Do if Your Vehicle Becomes Disabled on the Highway
Our society is heavily reliant on our vehicles functioning properly at all times. Unfortunately, despite how advanced vehicles have become, there is still the possibility that your vehicle could malfunction while you are behind the wheel. If your vehicle becomes disabled when you are driving on a highway or major roadway, what do you do?
First off, it’s important to avoid panicking and remain calm. As soon as you notice your car is having trouble, focus on quickly and safely pulling off the roadway. From there, you’ll need to follow some steps to ensure you remain safe while you wait for help.
Here are 6 steps to take if your vehicle becomes disabled on the highway:
- Pull completely off the road, as far right as possible. One of the most dangerous things to do is to leave the vehicle in the middle of the roadway. If the roadway has a shoulder, that’s where you want to be. Remember that although the shoulder is the safest place to pull over, you should still act with caution, as other drivers may not be paying attention.
- Turn on your hazard lights. This is crucial, as it alerts other vehicles that you are stopped for an emergency. If you have them, set out flares to alert drivers of your presence.
- As soon as your vehicle is in a safe location, call 911. Explain your situation and give them your location with as much precision as possible.
- Call for roadside assistance. If you have roadside assistance through your insurance policy, AAA or another provider, call the number and explain your situation.
- Stay in the vehicle if possible, and keep your seat belt on. Exiting the vehicle can put you at risk of being struck by a vehicle. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. Earlier this year, a tow truck driver was struck and killed while standing outside his vehicle on I-10. A big rig driver drifted onto the shoulder and struck the tow truck driver. And last year, two people were struck by an SUV while they were standing outside their vehicle in Hesperia. According to the report, the men had pulled the vehicle onto the shoulder. Unfortunately, being on the shoulder does not always mean you are out of harm’s way. Drivers could still drift onto the shoulder and hit you, so it is much safer to remain in your vehicle if possible.
- If you must exit the vehicle, get out on the side away from traffic. Quickly assess your vehicle, and then get back inside to wait for help.
Hopefully you never find yourself in a situation like this—but if you do, do your best to follow these steps and to remain calm. There are also several things you can do to prevent your vehicle from breaking down while you are driving.
Here are 5 tips that may help prevent vehicle breakdowns:
- Have your vehicle serviced for routine maintenance. Your vehicle manual likely has a suggestion for the frequency of this maintenance, but you can also check with your dealership or auto shop to see what they recommend.
- Check your vehicle’s fluid levels frequently. At least once a month, it’s a good idea to take a look under the hood and check your car’s oil and coolant levels. Inadequate fluid level is one of the main reasons for vehicles breaking down while driving, so this is a very important task, and it only takes a few minutes.
- Check your battery level. Many newer vehicles will alert you when the battery level is low. However, if yours does not have this feature, many auto shops will test your battery for free. You can also test it yourself with a multimeter.
- Don’t ignore the “Check Engine” light. If this warning light comes on, it could be for a variety of issues. You should have your vehicle checked out as soon as possible.
- Drive carefully. It seems simple, but your driving habits can greatly affect the performance of your vehicle. Avoid slamming on your brakes, as that can wear down your brake pads and rotors. Additionally, accelerating hard not only burns a lot of gas, but also puts strain on your car’s drivetrain—so don’t floor it unnecessarily.
“Hopefully you never have to worry about your car breaking down on the highway. However, if it does happen, remember to take these steps to ensure your safety while you wait for assistance,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.
Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in an auto accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at (760) 777-7777 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.
DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.